Buy local. Support local independent businesses. We hear it all the time, but it is more important now than ever. Even big-box solutions that we have grown used to for one-stop convenience are struggling because of online shopping.
Is that where our values are? Online? Convenience? What does that do for our sense of community?
I work in a neighborhood where people know my name. St. Anthony Park is a small community touching both St. Paul and Minneapolis that has been around since the late 1800s. People move to neighborhoods like this because it is walkable and you can get your basic necessities, plus frills, nearby. Retail, groceries, service businesses, and dining in a few blocks. Not a big box among them!
The community likes it that way. However, my guess is many of us still get in cars and drive a few miles-spending gas and time in traffic-for the "convenience" of saving a few bucks at a big box store.
It is local businesses that create neighborhood jobs. Local owners support local schools and nonprofits with donations. Some of them diversify and create new businesses, or other investments in nearby blocks. Local independent businesses help to keep our personal real estate taxes in check.
The bank where I work runs a coffee bar; it donates at least $500 each month directly to local youth, schools, daycares and other groups. A local owner developed a property in 25 units of multi-family housing, which increased the property tax base.
I grew up in the small town of Wadena. Local business is what it was all about. Everything was centered in a few blocks. My first job was at the local Red Owl grocery store. I got to know every business owner. All my friends worked somewhere "downtown" after school. We all shopped the local stores.
I am fortunate to have that sense of community where I work now. That is why I do everything I can, personally and professionally, to invest my money right here, right now. Terri (Macklem) Banaszewski, formerly of Wadena, is vice president of business development at Sunrise Banks in St. Paul. She graduated with Wadena's class of 1976. This article is reprinted with permission from Minnesota Women's Press.